Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

There are some people with whom a connection is felt.  I have had an off-again, on-again relationship with most campus ministry teams since I was in college, sometimes feeling as though they are trying to hard, sometimes feeling they are not trying hard enough.  It’s resulted in participation at different levels on the various campuses where I have lived and worked.  With my current chaplain, I have continued to develop a relationship with her over the past seven years, and have enjoyed the ways in which my faith and spirituality has been strengthened through this relationship.  Recently, with a number of things happening in her life, I was compelled to make some soup and bring it to her house.  Knowing that she eats a primarily vegetarian or vegan diet, I knew that this recipe from the Small Victories cookbook was the soup I wanted to bring to her house.  I took a quick taste of it and think it was a delightful (and not super challenging) soup dish to bring over and share with them to have in the immediate, or tucked away in the freezer for a time when they were ready for it.

Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

4 red bell peppers, halved, cored, seeded, and deribbed
3 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 russet potato, peeled and roughly diced
2 semifirm pears, peeled, cored, and roughly diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Set your oven rack so it’s 6 inches from the broiler and preheat your broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Put the bell pepper halves skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet and broil, turning the baking sheet so they broil evenly, until the skins are completely blackened, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler.  Immediately transfer the pepper halves to a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to trap the steam (which will help the skins to peel off).  Let the peppers sit until they’re cool enough to handle.  Rub off and discard the charred skins under running water.  Roughly chop the roasted, peeled peppers, and set them aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and thyme and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are softened but haven’t taken on any color, about 15 minutes.

Add the roasted red peppers, along with the diced potato and pears, to the pot.  Give everything another sprinkle of salt and pepper and then add the stock.  Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Then turn the heat to low and let the soup simmer until the potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15-20 minutes.

Fish out and discard the thyme stems (most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off into the soup, which is okay).  Puree the soup with an immersion blender or with a regular blender.

Start with low speed and slowly work your way up to high to completely puree the soup.  Transfer the blended soup to a clean pot and reheat.

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Steak, Sundried Tomato & Mozzarella Couscous Salad

The weather is cooling off and I went through the freezer, finding a lone frozen steak.  As frost gets colder and I needed to pull the herbs inside, this recipe seemed like the perfect fit.  This was great.  I really liked how it turned out.  I was worried it might not have enough salt because I didn’t season the steak at all while I cooked it, but the mozzarella and couscous salt turned out to offer the right amount of balance.  I’m excited to eat the leftovers cold and see how I like them with that.

Also, please note that this is from my recipe collection without a reference from where I originally obtained the recipe.  I apologize to the originator for not being able to share where I initially found the recipe.

Steak, Sundried Tomato and Mozzarella Couscous Salad

Steak, Sundried Tomato, and Mozzarella Couscous Salad

1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
6 oz cooked steak (whatever steak you have leftover)
2 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 clove garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped

Combine olive oil and garlic in a small nonstick skillet; cook over medium-low heat 2 minutes or just until fragrant. Remove from heat; set aside.

Cook couscous per package directions with sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Spoon couscous into a large bowl. (You could use leftover cooked couscous and mix in the sundried tomatoes and proceed from here)

Add steak, cubed mozzarella cheese, roasted red bell peppers, and chopped fresh basil; toss well to combine.

Combine garlic mixture, vinegar, salt, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle dressing over couscous mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

Corn Dip

Every once in awhile, a recipe catches my eye and I know I want to make it.  This recipe, from the Iowa State Fair Cookbook was one such recipe.  I was looking for an off-the-beaten-track dip for chips and the combination of corn, cream cheese, ranch dressing, and other items (and that it was a refrigerated dip, not a heated one, was the right combination to pique my interest.

This was another recipe in the various recipes that I served to the students who came over to my house last month.  If you have a potluck or tailgating event to attend this summer, this may be the recipe you want to throw together.

Corn Dip.jpg

Corn Dip

2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 pkg dry ranch dressing mix
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2.25 oz can chopped ripe olives, drained
1 can whole kernal corn, drained
14 oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Beat together cream cheese and ranch dressing mix.  Add additional ingredients.  Chill several hours and serve with tortilla chips.

Thai-Style Broccoli Salad

This is another recipe that has found its way into my recipe folder, but I’m not sure of the origins.  After having done so much baking over the past four or five weeks, I was out of sugar, so I substituted honey in this recipe, and since it’s a primarily savory dish, I don’t think it made a significant impact.  The peanut butter offers a nice sweetness to the broccoli, and I liked it warm and cold as I was reheating it last week.

Thai-Style Broccoli Salad.jpg

Thai-Style Broccoli Salad

1/4 c chunky peanut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 c fresh broccoli florets
1/2 c red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 c thinly sliced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c chopped peanuts

In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar, water, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper flakes.  Whisk until blended and set aside.

Heat vegetable oil over medium high in a large skillet or wok.  Add the broccoli, bell pepper, onions, and garlic.  Stir fry for 4 minutes or until vegetables are just tender crisp.

Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter mixture.  Toss well to combine, sprinkle on chopped peanuts and serve hot or at room temperature.

Red Pepper Jelly

One day this summer, my parents were lamenting that they couldn’t find red pepper jelly at their local grocery store.  Also being from a small town like mine, our grocery stores are pretty similar.  I was disappointed for them, and so when it was time to harvest peppers, I thought I should find a recipe for red pepper jelly to bring to them.  Canning for a New Generation had the perfect recipe, and it made a few half-pint jars, so I put it together and brought it to them last month when I saw them.

Red Pepper Jelly.jpg

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Red Cabbage Slaw with Broccoli and Red Pepper

This week I had some friends and their daughter over for dinner and decided to try a bunch of new recipes with them.  Worst option: I could always order pizza, right?

The first item I’ll share with you from the menu was a side — a red cabbage slaw.  Tons of the ingredients are starting to come into season here in Iowa, and so I could find them easily in the grocery store.  I missed the farmer’s market due to some traveling, so I needed to head to the store.  I used basil from my own backyard and put this together for us to munch on.

The recipes are from a cookbook I purchased through a used book store, called Celebrating the Midwest Table.  In fact, two of the recipes were from this cookbook, so you’ll see me refer to it again later this week.

Isn’t the salad fabulously colorful??

Red Cabbage Slaw with Broccoli and Red Pepper

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